Cursed land “Bhootni” is Malda’s shame

Sreerupa Mitra Chaudhury

29 April 2017, Malda: Bhootni (Malda’s Cursed Land) has risen to hope and joy again, after seeing their dear sister at the bay area of the river, which often overflows through their heartland and causes agony of flood. This morning, villagers had woken up to a surprise visit by Nirbhoy Didi.

World famous Social Activist and India’s prominent Women’s Rights Leader Sreerupa Mitra Chaudhury is popularly addressed by villagers of Malda as Nirbhoy Didi (Fearless Sister). She visited the area on 29th April 2017 after a gap of 36 months.

Nirbhoy Didi transformed the tiny Public Health Centre located in the middle of the cursed land of Bhootni Region at Manikchak, Malda, after a Hunger Strike by her in the year 2014. Today, the much dilapidated and deserted Bhootni Medical Health Centre is an icon of hope for many villagers. “After her Ansan (Fasting), the Health Centre opened. Earlier, the doctors were not attending to the hospital; now they stay here,” said a villager.

“After three years, Nirbhoy Didi visited the villages of Uttar Chandipur, Dakshin Chandipur and Hiranandapur and met the villagers, especially women and children. Her visit was applauded by the local communities who remember her for her extraordinary contribution in the opening of the then neglected Health Centre and a closed Anganwadi centre,” said a woman panchayat member. “We can’t forget her activism,” said a college girl.

Bhootni is a cursed land. It is an island like place habited by marginalized sections of our society. The landlocked Bhootni Region is known for snake bite, flood, river erosion and intestinal diseases. The landing at the region is by Boats. There is no metal road in Bhootni. “I wish to change the name of Bhootni. The name itself is cursed,” said Sreerupa Mitra Chaudhury during her recent visit.

Bhootni is yet to see its good times. There is no metal road here; the tube-wells are far and few. The schools are deserted,” claimed a school teacher. The ferry system is costly and very difficult for sick and ailing persons. “Pregnant women and children suffer a lot due to hard communication system,” said a nursing attendant.

Manikchak (community development block) is an administrative division in Malda Sadar subdivision of Malda district in the Indian state of West Bengal. Manikchak police station serves this block and its headquarters are at Manikchak.

The Manikchak community development block has an area of 316.39 km

Gram panchayats of Manikchak bloc/ panchayat samiti are: Nurpur, Nazirpur, Hiranandapur, Mathurapur, Gopalpur, Manikchak, Chowki Mirdadpur, Uttar Chandipur, Dakshin Chandipur, Dharampur and Enayetpur.

Left bank erosion of the Ganges upstream of Farakka Barrage has rendered nearly 4.5 lakh people homeless in Manikchak, Kaliachak I, II and III and Ratua blocks over the last three decades of the past century. The worst hit area is between Bhutnidiara and Panchanandapore in Kaliachak II block. According to the Ganga Bhangan Pratirodh Action Nagarik Committee 750 km area was lost in 30 years in the Manikchak and Kalichak areas.

As per 2011 Census of India Manikchak CD Block had a total population of 269,813 all of which were rural. There were 139,593 males and 130,220 females. Scheduled Castes numbered 74,816 and Scheduled Tribes numbered 40,125.

As per 2011 census the total number of literates in Manikchak CD Block was 130,874 out of which 75,340 were males and 55,534 were females.

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